by Cris Yeager
Whild Legend is more than just a name...he is a man who defends the memory of his family.
|Let me ask you a question. If you are holding someone’s existence in your hand, at what point do you let their being cease before your eyes? To be clear, this someone in which I’m referring has: destroyed my family (in other words…killed indirectly), gotten me terminated from my employment (eh, I helped with that), chased my girlfriend away and is currently struggling to breathe as I have my hand wrapped around his neck. I should just let go, you think? Just to know that the slimy buffoon is still wasting air makes me cringe. No. Letting go is not an option. Actually, I’m kinda hoping he’ll just pass out and I can drag his sorry ass to local law enforcement.
Perhaps I should introduce myself before you assist me. My name is Whild Legend, yeah…my parents had a sense of humor, and I’m about to choke the life out of the man who decided to drive while intoxicated and kill my entire family. Except for me. Not only that, but in another drunken stupor, the idiot shows up at my work fourteen years later to blame my kin for his mistake. Really?
Okay…as you can imagine, I am pissed. And yeah…okay…I did a few things that may have upset my boss – he has some blood to clean up. Hence the firing. In my own defense, I did what any logical law abiding citizen with no family who has been angered, embarrassed and humiliated would do. Right? I, Whild Legend, was about to squeeze the ever-living nerve out of a fool! To top it all off, my girlfriend, who I also work with, is ashamed of my actions too. I think. When she tries to calm things down, he pukes on her. The bastard vomits on my lady! Gross.
Aubree, my girl…won’t even answer my texts, my calls. She just left me here in the parking lot -- walked out on her own job when I got dismissed. Although, I can’t say that the time I’ve spent here at Copies for Less was worth it. I’ll find another job. Whild does not endorse the unemployed. If I don’t go to prison first. Aubree, on the other hand, loves her job and she just…left. Gone. Boom. Just like that. So, while I wait for Mr. Drunkass Killer to be rendered unconscious, let me tell you a story. I’m sure this is the motive behind my name, might as well make it a whopper.
I was a ten-year-old Whild the summer my parents decide to drive across the country with three kids and my grandparents. I’m the typical boy. Always bored and annoy just about anyone I come into contact with. My mom, Susie, has planned this enormous trip and rents a sizeable minivan. Hah! You see what I did there? Sizeable…mini…eh, never mind. Anyway, my dad grumbles for the entire two days he is off work before we depart our small town in central Tennessee. Saying things like “I could have been making money until we left” or “this is stupid Susie, I could’ve worked so we’d have cash when we get back” things like that. Planning or waiting aren’t his idea of fun.
We pull out of town before sunset on a Friday. My grandparents take the second row seating behind my parents. Not a great idea. The elderly couple spends more time farting and giggling than five year olds. Dad is driving and mom is navigating. Another bad idea. Dad is prone to bouts of road rage while mom gets scared and cries. My sisters, Glorius and Vivid, are strapped into the back seat with me. These rambunctious twins are creators of havoc, masters of mischief, trouble in every sense of the word. Even I, the great Whild Legend, don’t stand a chance.
For days, we drive from town to town, state to state. We stop when we need food, a bathroom break, to stretch our legs, take in a sight or sleep. I’m figuring we have passed through only ten of the forty-eight states we had plan to terrorize before the fateful moment actually happens.
That morning had started out like any other for a family on the road, miserable. My sisters are in the bathroom and I have to go! I creep out of the sleazy, grimy motel room and move my way between two cars. All would have gone well if I hadn’t forgotten about the other row of trashy rooms across the parking lot. There, on the balcony, stands a lady in curlers, a cup of coffee in her hand (I assume), a cigarette hanging from her mouth and she is talking loudly into a cell phone (holding it like a walkie-talkie). I hear her say “Alice, you ain’t gonna believe this! A boy is peeing on your car! Get out here!” just moments before I realize she was talking about me! I shook my business and quickly run back to the room without looking back, although, I could hear their voices yelling at me. Not a clue what they’re screaming though. Whild is not sticking around to find out!
Back in the room, mom is crying. Somehow, she had lost her favorite necklace somewhere around Virginia, we think. Dad is explaining he’ll get her another one when we get home. Even though she still cries, she nods and wipes tears from her face. I have no idea what my grandma and grandpa were doing in the next room. Don’t want to know. Probably gobbling up some farting powder for the next leg of the trip. Sheesh. It’s rough, I ain’t gonna lie.
After we are all packed, we walk across a busy highway to a run-down café. It’s called Eat More or some crazy messed up name like that. I don’t care as long as they have biscuits. And they do, or at least it was a close similarity. I watch my sisters throw food across the table for several minutes before my dad erupts with “stop it now girls or I’ll tie your little asses to the top of the van” and then he mumbles to his father, my grandpa, that he should have done that when we left Tennessee. I find it amusing. The girls are apparently unaffected by the threat. They continue their bacon and ham battle as mom slaps them on the arm every few minutes. Of course, they giggle. Girls are dumb.
Rhode Island is not a fun-filled state. I think we just spent the night there. I don’t even remember stopping for any other reason. We slept and we ate. Zilch on anything else. Today’s driving goal is Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and we would end the day/night in Maine. This would total fourteen states so far and a week of boredom and agony on my behalf.
However, we never make it to Maine. Somewhere between Boston and Portsmouth, my life as I know it…suffers a severe change. The grandparents I have grown to love -- no matter how smelly, the parents that teach me to be myself no matter who tries to steer me different, my sisters that unknowing to them… train me to defend myself. Gone. Vanish before my eyes. Literally. I wake in a hospital weeks later. Doctors and nurses tell me of my ill fate. Social workers are in and out every day. I can’t even grieve. It doesn’t seem real.
Broken legs, an arm, fingers crushed, cracked ribs and shattered pelvis -- a hospital stay that no ten year old, or anyone of any age, should have to endure alone. I began my isolated days inside a tiny room with beeping machines and carting ladies with needles and cuffs. The television offers temporary seclusion into another world. Mostly I sleep. May be the meds they have me on. Physical Therapy follows my healing and soon I become a ward of the state.
I’m cast into a home for boys because there is simply nowhere else the great state of New Hampshire can put me at the moment of my release from the hospital. I am told “when we find your family” and “perhaps someone in your town” or “a foster family may take you” so many times for so many months…it makes my head hurt just thinking about it. I know the St. Sebastien School for Boys is pretty much “home” by the time I turn twelve.
Catholic school is much like winding a rubber band around a pencil. You tug and tug, and stretch and stretch until you can’t possibly pull any more. Then…you’re just left there…holding a damned rubber band to keep it from whipping back around the pencil and snapping your hand. Yeah. Just like that. I keep to myself, make no friends and do school work when it’s required of me. Concerned about my quiet nature, an instructor suggests to my social worker that therapy be implemented. She fears that I will close myself off from society. Really? My family is dead and I’m alone! What did they really expect? Triumph? Wow.
My therapist, Miller, a weird balding round man with a unibrow starts researching my town and looking for any possible relations (there are none) or family friends. My father was an only child of only children. My mother was also an only child. Just like I thought, he found no relatives. Duh. I tried to tell him, but obviously, a twelve year old wouldn’t know about those things. Whatever. But…he does find friends of my mother who are willing to take me in. He mentions names. However, I only know one. Izzy. Izabel Cherish. That name I know and know well. Izzy was my mother’s best friend and neighbor. Izzy and her husband had also been my parents’ secondary beneficiaries. They had my grandparents as their first. What? New Hampshire needs to improve their system as I see it. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to find this information! No! It took a clinical therapist!
I can sigh all I want about the horrid year and a half I’ve spent up north, but that’s not gonna change a single thing. The important part is…I came home. Izzy cries the entire first week I’m there. Every time she looks at me. I suppose I could have mentioned earlier that I was my mother in a boy’s body. Look like her, act like her. Poor Izzy. I know the feeling. Still to this day…looking in the mirror and seeing my mothers’ eyes makes my chest tighten.
Its summer and I know I’ll be going back to school soon. Izzy has dragged me from store to store in surrounding towns to buy me clothes and shoes. Just a week away, school sounds like a big ole’ vacation to me at this point. How can women stand to love shopping? Izzy isn’t so bad, neither is Dayle, her husband. Good people -- honest, hard-working and witty. They had been unable to have children. I’m a dream come true for them, minus the death of their closest friends. They would’ve made excellent parents if they had been able. Okay…they are great parents and they “are” able.
School has begun and junior high is all new to me. Man…kids are mean! But I know that being as I had tolerated my older sisters’ antics. Now I realize “why” they were like that! They had to be mean just to survive! Again…poor Izzy. She’s had to replace all of the jeans she had bought me due to broken belt loops. We won’t discuss how that came to be. Use your imagination. Not to mention the countless pairs of briefs that have been ripped. Wedgies are not cool. Now that I think back on it…I should have a crack the size of the Grand Canyon. Stop laughing fool! You know what I mean.
Now…onward into the story. I meet sweet Aubree Naples in school. The only momentous event worth mentioning upon my stay in this blasted school. My Aubree is gentle, caring and a little on the nerdy side. That’s okay. Nerdy girls are hot. She helps to ease the pain of the whole adolescent experience. We are both awkward in our own ways. I did miss not coming home and immediately telling mom about what happened that day or what we studied, even talking with her about meeting Aubree. That would’ve been cool.
Nothing special about high school either, except Aubree. I set out on a mission after graduation to learn about what had happened that day in New Hampshire. After a grueling internet search, I reach out to Miller. He seems glad to hear from me, but noticeably dreads the reason behind the call.
Miller sends me information via snail mail on the accident -- newspaper clippings and the sort. What was supposed to be a fun family holiday turned into a gruesome nightmare on a long stretch of highway. What do get when you cross a minivan doing speed limit and an alcohol fuel middle-aged man in a muscle car leaving a bar after a fight with his cheating wife? You get six dead, one critically injured and one on the way to jail. That’s what you get.
Mr. Addler, The Inebriated, leaves the bar pissed at his wife. He stomps the gas to exit the parking lot in a hurry and t-bones the minivan carrying my family and me, Whild Legend, of course. This action causes the van to overturn and skid across the oncoming lane and down an embankment where it rolls numerous times. Mr. Addler is thrown through the windshield of his hot rod, but lands in some brush. He walks away with scratches. No one walks away from the van. The drunken man is immediately treated and transported to the county jail.
Later, he is convicted of six counts of involuntary manslaughter and DUI. He serves eight years. You have got to be kidding me. Figures.
Eager to lay the past to rest, I continue to focus on school and my life with Aubree. We attend community college simultaneously and have taken jobs together as well. Ten years we have spent in harmony. We now have our own apartment and one car. The car she just took and leaves me to fend for myself. Anyway… Just normal kids, doing normal things. This includes dinner dates with my adoptive parents and weekly nerd card games with a few friends. I’m sure folks in town think us an odd couple. I’m tall with an athletic body I never play sports with, long shaggy dull hair and everything is a joke to me. Oh, and I’m sure my rugged face scares a few individuals. Aubree is serious, petite and cute with gorgeous crazy blond curls. Although, she’s not as quiet as everyone would believe. She’ll stand her ground if need be. Believe me…I know.
Time for Whild to get his act together. The whole business of a semester of school then a few months of working and then back to school is getting old. Working your way through school sucks! But…it gets the job done, the bills paid and makes a man tired as hell! Finally, reaching graduation feels like watching a slow boat move into a harbor and sinking little by little as it comes in. No more part-time employment for us! We know the jobs at the local copy store will be temporary, but we need cash to get us through the summer before the “big” job hunts begin. Which leads me to how today starts out. Watch out ya’ll…this one’s a doozy.
Aubree and I drive into to work (okay…she drove, I shave via electric razor in the mirror) and arrive five minutes late. I told her not to take the main road. There was construction by the bridge! She never listens. Aubree already knows this! She had complained the evening before when she returned from the grocery store across town. Then an argument ensued over “why” she went all the way across town when there was a store two blocks away. Why you ask? The other store is the only one to carry her favorite coffee creamer! Good grief. Women.
Anyway, Aubree and I are pretty safe on not getting into trouble over being late…our boss is late as well. By the time he gets here, Aubree is taking orders over the phone and I’m eye-editing a menu design for errors before sending it in for printing. The tiny bell over the door rings and at first glance I see an older gentleman. That just isn’t the case. He really isn’t as old as he looks from a distance. Just homely. Wearing a dirty faded plaid jacket over a stained t-shirt, he approaches the counter with a stumble. His beard is graying and he reeks of alcohol.
The man plops his arm down on the counter as I take a few steps back. He staggers, but manages to wobble back into place.
“I’m looking for a boy with a messed up name. Wilt or Whiley, something like that.”
I blink. He stares. Who is this joker and why could he possibly be looking for me? I shrug it off and…
“Whild? Is that who you’re looking for sir?”
“Yep. That’s him. He around?” The man actually belches. That stunk. Disgusting.
“That’s me. What can I do for you today sir?”
The old grubby guy takes a step back and looks at his feet as if he were trying to eye them into submission. Then he jerks his head up and looks me square in the eyes.
“My name is Gentry Addler. I was involved in an accident that killed your family years ago. I’ve come looking for compensation on all the years I spent in the can just because your folks were in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
What. Did. He. Just…oh hell no he didn’t! Yep. You see folks…everyone has a breaking point. I, Whild Legend, have just reached that particular point. I somehow know before my hand even moves to punch this dumb bastard in the face, this would be a day that changes my life. Yet again. Anyway…I hit him. He’s on the floor. I’m coming around the counter when my manager decides to show up from the back of the store. Ah…he yells something, hell if I know, as I’m kicking this asshat in the gut.
Okay. Let’s pause here for a moment. I do not believe I’m in the wrong, okay? I mean, for snots sake, he is blaming my family…my dead family…for his underprivileged life in the slammer! You’d hit an asshole too! Don’t lie! And to think, I called this man sir! Moving on…
Whild Legend is about to beat the filth off this clown! I would have too if Mr. Bossman and Aubree hadn’t shown up screaming and pulling me back. Hell, I don’t even have it in me to explain myself. Aubree begs me to calm down. I oblige. Sure, why not? That just gives me room to run before I kick him this time when they least expect it. Aubree leaves my side to aid our employer to help the man to stand.
“Sir. Are you okay? I have no clue what’s gotten into him. He really isn’t a violent guy. I promise. I’m so sorry”
My sweet Aubree. So caring, so clueless.
“That bastard ruined my life. Him and his whole damned family! I’ll see him rot in jail like I nearly did before I leave this damned town!”
Oh that did it. Whild was as calm as could be expected for a few moments, but not now. Lunging around my girlfriend, I went in for another swing. Popped him in the mouth before they can stop me. Hah! Blood splays the wall and window behind him. That’s when I hear the “fired” word. Fine by me. Asta la vista jackass! But I’m taking the court jester with me. I grab the old coot by the back of his nasty jacket and pull toward the door. His feet lose their position and I’m suddenly dragging him. No biggie for a man of six foot four and two-hundred pounds. Once outside, I drop him on the pavement.
Aubree comes out like a coyote ready to scavenge a dead deer. Arms flying, screaming. I really hate to say this, but the little punches she is throwing at my chest are like a massage. My cute Aubree. Mr. Addler takes this opportunity to try and stand, and then the gut wrenching noise of vomiting arises behind my girl. She jumps and screams. Puke. All down the back of her jeans. All I can do is stand there and watch. I’m mentally shaking my head of course. It was bound to happen.
Aubree stomps around in a circle like an Indian chief before unbuttoning her jeans and shedding them right there in the lot. Cute. Classy. But then…she throws the barf jeans at me! Well, what the hell? She stomps into the building -- passing the boss who has his mouth hanging to the ground. She reappears with her purse in hand.
“I’m taking the damned car!”
She marches to the car and simply leaves. The boss man mumbles something about calling the cops as I stand there watching my girlfriend leave in the only ride I have outta there. So, Whild is stuck here with a selfish drunk jerk, a pissed boss and stinky jeans. The employer that’s just canned me makes another appearance by sticking his head out the door and informing me the law is on their way. I shrug.
Oh, you’re not gonna believe this…the sucker on the ground actually kicks out at me. I move. But the gall! Dumbass. I glance up at the door to see a scared man looking back at me. Did I care? No, not one bit. Okay…a little. If I was to finish this, I’ll have to do it out of sight.
I reach down, grab the man by his arm and drag him to the side of the building. Luckily, no windows. That is when I wrap my hand around his throat. No need to use both hands. I only want to subdue him at the moment. Besides, I can easily hold his weak ass just like this. So, there you have it. The short version.
I’m currently trying to decide whether or not prison is gonna be worth it. Deciding against it, I let go when my cell phone rings. Aubree is on the other end when I answer. Screaming. I just sigh and hang up. Wanna know why? Those were her favorite jeans. Yeah.
What to do with Mr. Pukey here? Sirens in the distance make up my mind for me. I just stand there, with my arms crossed. Two patrol cars nearly jump the sidewalk curb just to get into the parking lot. I should mention the first car is being driven by a good friend of mine, Asher, who I play cards with on weekends. The second, a heavy older man by the name of Dodge. I have no idea if that’s his real name or…
Mr. Addler just lays there blinking his eyes. I didn’t kill him. That’s good news. Asher walks over with a puzzled look and then glances up at me after sniffing the nice aroma of the old guy. Whild sarcasm, of course. There’s nothing nice about this stench.
“Sorry Asher. He showed up and demanded that I give him money to make up for the time he spent in jail for killing my folks. I beat his ass. That’s all I have to offer.”
Asher stands there for a few seconds, then reaches into his pocket and brings out some gloves. He pulls them over his hands and motions for Dodge to grab the other arm of Mr. Drunkedy Drunk Drunk. They lift the man to his feet and guide him to the car. Asher walks back after several minutes and tells me to come down to the station before the end of the day and make my statement. I simply nod.
Now…to find a way home and smooth things over with my girl. Tomorrow the “big” job search starts earlier than originally planned. Watch out world…Whild Legend is coming your way. IF…you have a job open.
Word Count 4,075